A while back I wrote about how Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's techniques for successfully making custom rubber stamps had me eager to try rubber stamp carving myself. I asked for your advice, and you gave it!
Today I'm sharing those tips on how to make a stamp from our savvy, creative readers:
A good work surface for stamp carving: Use a sturdy piece of wood (I used 1/2" plywood) in a workable size (10" x 12" works well). Looking at the wood horizontally, attach a 3/4" x 1" strip of wood along the TOP of the back edge. This keeps the stamp from sliding and protects fingers from slips of the carving tools. Attach another strip of wood along the BOTTOM of the front edge. This hooks on the edge of the table you are working on and acts as a stop to keep the whole surface from sliding away from you.
~ leah l
I find putting rubber shelf liner or rubber rug backing under the piece helps keep it from slipping as I am making long, straight cuts. I have also learned, when teaching how to make a stamp, to tell students to limit the first several days of carving to only an hour or so at a time! It's so fun and can be a bit addicting, and students carve until their arms and hands are sore the next day!
~ Kari McKnight Holbrook
If you want a sturdier custom stamp, use the linoleum tiles instead of the rubber ones. To make them easier to carve, preheat the oven at 250, turn it off, and then pop the tiles in for a few minutes. They will be as soft as the rubber but hard when cool. You may have to repeat the heating if the design is intricate but it's much easier on the hands.
For rubber stamping materials, rubber erasers make nice small stamps. You can even find them in flower, butterfly, or other shapes, all you need to do is add detail. I find a lot of them at dollar stores. Many of the erasers are thick enough that you can carve both sides.
By now I must have carved hundreds of stamps. All you need is an eraser, a craft knife, and a soft pencil. Linoleum carving tools work as well, but I prefer a simple craft knife, it is matter of personal choice.
Speedy Carve is inexpensive and very easy to use, so if you make a mistake, it's not an expensive mistake! Plus, you can cut it down as small as you like―perfect for making art stamps of any size!
Using pencil to draw the image on the rubber will result in a smeared line and you'll lose the design. Go over the design lines with a fine point ink pen. Work from the inside of the design to the outside line. Carve on a sheet of paper for easier cleanup.
~ The Commander
My advice: Try it! I recently made my first stamp and I am hooked. I was concerned that it would be difficult or too time intensive. It wasn't either of these things, and now I can't wait to make another one. Knowing how to make a custom rubber stamp is going to broaden my art by allowing me to include my very own original stamps. Absolutely awesomely fun.
I second libbyQ's emotion: Try it! With these tips and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's stamping techniques on her Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video Stamp-Making Adventures: Carve, Cut, & Print One-Of-A-Kind Designs, it's hard to go wrong.
If you've resolved this year to try stamp carving or any other new-to-you technique, we want to help you keep that resolution with a sale now through January 29 on mixed-media books, magazines, DVDs and more.
P.S. Do you have tips to add to these? Leave a comment below!